National Post

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Wednesday, October 27, 1999

Ads hit home: Stop domestic violence
Chris Eby
National Post

Crime Stoppers has launched a series of unflinching television and radio advertisements to encourage citizens to anonymously report domestic assaults.

One television advertisement juxtaposes images of a football player tackling a dummy with a distraught-looking woman. It says: "this is a tackling dummy" and "this is a woman."

Similarly, the radio advertisements feature the sound of a woman crying and screaming as she is beaten by a man who is shouting and breaking dishes.

"This is the first time in North America an organization like ours has targeted a specific crime," said Ed Lemont, president of the Association of Ontario Crime' Stoppers. "If a person wants to report domestic violence and remain anonymous, they should call us." The tip line is not meant for victims of domestic abuse, however, who are urged to call 911.

Toronto had 27,000 reported cases of domestic abuse last year, which resulted in 6,590 charges being laid, police statistics show. Women represented 85% of the victims; and, in more than half of all the cases, a weapon was used.

"Domestic abuse is still perceived to be a private matter that's dealt with within the family. That's wrong, it's a crime," Superintendent William Blair, the head of Toronto's community policing support unit, told a news conference yesterday.

"This is the most serious violent crime taking place in the city; and, in our view, it is preventable: said Supt. Blair, who was flanked by David Tsubouchi, the Solicitor-General, and Helen Johns, the Minister Responsible for Women's Issues.

Calls to Crime Stoppers reporting suspected domestic violence will be handled the same as other tips.

If the operator thinks the call is legitimate, a number will be assigned to the tipster for all future dealings with Crime Stoppers.

The operator then passes the information to police investigators. In most cases, the ensuing police work entails non-intrusive surveillance, because police are unable to obtain an arrest or search warrant based only on an anonymous tip, Mr. Lemont said.. The initiative is, in part, a response to the recommendations made by the jury at the Arlene May and Randy Iles inquest, whose deaths brought domestic violence and firearm abuse into the public eye.

The launch of the program comes one day after the city auditor released a report saying the police unit charged with investigating sexual assaults is failing the women it is meant to protect.

National Post

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